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How does your cooking compare with restaurants you usually frequent? - moved from Home Cooking board

Results are going to vary of course. But generally, do you consider your cooking to be better than or about as good as restaurants that you usually go to?

Let's leave out the high-end places you go to just a few times a year and the fabulous roast you make for the holidays. Day in and day out, what tastes better - yours or the chef's?

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  1. Depends, my grilled food is usually much better than restaurants, especially steaks. My bbq is better than most Q joints I have visited, brisket - ribs - chicken - pulled pork, all better than commercial outfits. But I don't have to make money and I buy great meat and baby my bbq.

    1. We do pretty well with grilled items..fish, chicken, steaks etc. Also comfort foods such as mac and cheese, pot roast, roast chicken and the like. Love to bake so have mastered many excellent baked items as well.

      Fried foods are a different story. Not that I eat fried stuff all that often but I think a commercial fryer makes all the difference. I have finally come close to mastering fried chicken. It is good not great and I am still working on it.

      I will say that even though I often think that I could make my meals at restaurants just as well at home, it is so nice to have someone else cook, serve and clean up.

      1. I never want to pay to eat out unless I know I will get better food than I can make at home. Because of that, we only eat out 3-5 times a year, and those are usually high end places. So my cooking is almost always worse than the restaurants I frequent.

        Now I'm curious.... am I in the minority?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jeremyn

          I am *exactly* like you. I think we are in the minority here though! Unless I'm on vacation I cook dinner every night except for the 3 or 4 times a year we are celebrating something. I hate to pay for so-so food and I do consider myself a pretty good cook.

        2. For most everyday cooking I can generally do as well or better if I put my mind to it. But I am never gonna fry chicken like Popeye's or KFC, i don't have a wok or a commercial range so my stir fry, while not bad, is not as good as an above average restaurant, I don't have the ingredients on hand for say great pho (nor would i necessarily recognize them in the market), and I am unlikely to buy a pizza stone (I'm single with a small small kitchen, 50 square feet) I don't need to be making pizza. Nor am I likely to have the 9 different ingredients that some of my favorite places use to make salads.

          On the other hand I do a great meat loaf, above average lasagne and spaghetti (ok, maybe its not 'authentic') really good chili, excellent roasts and steaks, and I've been known to do some pretty good baking too. Not too exotic, but it all seems to disappear.

          And yes, more than I wish to admit, I do stoop to cream of mushroom soup, knorr and lipton soup mixes, and other un-chow-like shortcuts.

          1. I am as good or better..

            When I do go out to eat, it's for things I do not cook at home. Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Seafood.

            I cook alot of fish well, but don't bother to cook mussels or clams. I will order them
            out at a restaurant. Also, I'll be more apt to order an obscure fish dish that I don't make at home.

            I can't say the last time I had deep fried anything, so I wouldn't cook it or order it.

            And although I can make a great burger, there is just something that calls my name to BK's Quarter Pounder with cheese, once in awhile. :)

            1. I don't often order things out that I can make well at home. So, anything I have out is generally better than what I'd make at home, eg. dim sum, sushi, pho, anything fried, real barbecue, etc., etc. I'm very picky about baked goods, though, since I make so much at home. There is only one bakery in the area where I'll considering ordering cakes.

              1. i'm quite confident that our daily fare is better than that served at all but the best restaurants--and even then, i'm not always so sure. still, we do enjoy eating out as a social activity or as an event marked by special techniques or ingredients. i'm quite serious about the social aspects of eating out. for me, joining a small group of friends in a restaurant is a different kind of experience than cooking a nice meal for them myself. equally fun but differently fun. similarly, eating with my wife in a restaurant is different than eating with her at home. this would be true even if the menu and preparation were the same both places. sometimes a fine meal is all about the food and sometimes it is about the food in the context of a relational event.

                6 Replies
                1. re: silverhawk

                  So I guess the unwritten part of my question is really... why on earth is that? (In response to your first sentence.) I mean, at nicer restaurants, these are supposed to be pros intent on making things taste good to draw repeat business. (Granted, they have to deal in quantity and have something ready when the guests are there, etc.)

                  1. re: Cinnamon

                    yes, i think the differences between a pro and a skilled amateur are:
                    --day to day consistency
                    --the ability to deal with at least a moderate volume of food
                    --the ability to prepare simultaneously different meals
                    --the ability to manage a kitchen, its staff, its purchases and its menues.

                    also, highly skilled pros likely have fully mastered a broad range of techniques and might be more able to execute newly created dishes and so might be better innovators than their amateur counterparts.

                    1. re: silverhawk

                      Almost everything I make is better. I only wish I could get the flame broiled flavor for steaks, that I rely on restaurants for. Also, Chinese food is impossible, that is the Americanized Chinese food is impossible...

                      1. re: silverhawk

                        I love to cook and to eat out, but I think they are very difficult experiences to compare. Home cooking should be...homey. I love to go to my friends for dinner, but would rather have meatloaf than a Keller replica. I also don't want mac and cheese when I'm out for the evening. It's apples and oranges.

                      2. re: Cinnamon

                        I think a big difference is you know how you like your food. The pros are cooking for the public. Honestly, my mom isn't the best cook but she prefers what she makes to anything else she has. She cooks to her taste.

                        1. re: chowser

                          It depends. I won't even attempt sushi. But I'll match my Kung-Pao chicken to that of any restaurant.

                          If I make fondue neuchateloise, I take care to use genuine Swiss Neuchatel wine, Swiss gruyere and Kirschwasser/ It is expensive, but better than the ordinary white wine and Emmenthaler of so many "Swiss" restaurants.

                    2. My food is better than 95% of the "day to day" restaurants I eat at. My eggs are never tough, my pulled pork is actually tender, my ingredients are higher quality. But I still enjoy going out to the little downtown joints with friends and on business lunches because sometimes it's just fun to have access to a fun drink, endless pot of coffee, and/or way more variety than my own kitchen offers. I can't afford to keep a two-person kitchen stocked with the variety of fresh foods in a restaurant kitchen.

                      1. My mexican cooking is so far behind real mexican that it is no contest. On the other hand, my mexican cooking is so far ahead of american-mexican cooking that it is no contest. For a Dane who has lived around, I prefer genuine mexican, with a little french.
                        My mesquite grilled rack of lamb makes daughters of world leaders want to marry me, but I'm wise to their nefarious ways.

                        1. The kinds of places we can afford to eat, my own cooking is as good or better than what you get... There are a lot of restaurants that I won't go back to because I know I can make the food better at home and I was left thinking 'why did we spend that much money for THAT?!' We usually save eating out for things that are too time-consuming, messy or awkward to make at home on a regular basis (like pizza and bbq and fancy cooked breakfasts) and go to one of the restaurants we've found that can do them really well. But now I've learned to make my own pizza too we have even less need to eat out!

                          I'm sure it would be different if we could afford to eat at 5-star restaurants... I'm not a chef, just a competant home cook.